Rancho got off to a quick start on Thursday night, jumping out to a 20-0 lead after one quarter on the way to a 40-28 road victory over Eldorado.
“I liked the way we came out and started the game,” Rancho coach Elvin Dick said. “We drove down the first series and scored, and then we went up 20. We started good, but got sloppy toward the middle and end.”
The win put Rancho (4-5, 3-3 Northeast League) in good position to claim the Northeast’s final playoff berth. The Rams would clinch with a victory over Valley next week. Eldorado (4-4, 3-3) would need to beat Las Vegas and have Rancho lose.
Rancho drove 65 yards on eight plays, capped by a 1-yard run by quarterback Will Gosse-Gardet on the opening drive.
An Eldorado miscue led to another quick score when punter Frasier Tauvalvale couldn’t handle a high snap on the ensuing possession. Rancho’s Cody Hafen scooped the ball up and returned it 13 yards for a touchdown, and the Rams led 14-0.
Rancho put together another scoring drive on its next possession, with tailback Shamel David scoring on an 11-yard run on the final play of the first quarter for a 20-0 lead.
Dick said it was especially important to score early because of dangerous Eldorado quarterback JaQuorrey Williams, who rushed for 206 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries.
“I’m glad the kids came out, especially going down that first series and scoring,” Dick said. “Because we knew they had a dynamic kid in (Williams), and we didn’t want to miss any opportunities to score.”
David added a 1-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, and Gosse-Gardet tossed a 2-yard TD pass to D’Andre Mason in the third quarter. Cody Hafen scored on a 30-yard run in the fourth quarter to put Rancho up 40-14 with 8:33 to play.
Williams hit Justin Brown with a 19-yard touchdown pass and then scored on a 48-yard run with 3.9 seconds left.
Eldorado dedicated the game to two teachers who recently died. Science teacher Timothy VanDerbosch died Wednesday after he was attacked and robbed while walking to school. VanDerbosch was beaten by the suspects and then struck by a passing motorist. Pam Orr-Sowers, a special education teacher, recently died after an illness.
Eldorado had a moment of silence prior to the game, and students released blue and pink balloons representing the two teachers.
“One of the teachers that passed, a lot of our offensive linemen had him for a teacher, so they were pretty much done,” Eldorado coach Vernon Brown said. “It was amazing that they came out and played. I told them that if they really weren’t up to it, they didn’t have to play.”
Brown said it was difficult for the school to lose two teachers.
“The other teacher, I worked close with her, so it was a tough week,” he said. “But no excuse. You’ve got to give (Rancho) credit.”